CHARLESTON – West Virginia Court Administrator Steve Canterbury is looking forward to being the next president of the Conference of State Court Administrators.
Canterbury, who has been the court administrator since 2005, said he enjoys being part of the organization and knows that if he comes across something in West Virginia, no matter how unique it may be, there is someone in the organization who can give him insight.
“Each of us is better because we learn from each other,” he said. “We always try to help each other and give insight where we can.”
When he begins his term in August 2017, Canterbury plans to work through committee structuring, look at how the schedules work and make sure publications are grammatically correct.
“I was an English professor for 12 years at the beginning of my professional career, and I still want to make sure things are correct when it comes to grammar,” he said.
Canterbury said he wants to focus on whatever problems come up and make sure that everyone is treated equally and fairly.
When Canterbury began this job, he focused on making sure there were more family court judges than there previously had been.
“We needed more family court judges. They are so important,” Canterbury said. “That was important to me and now we have enough of them when we previously had not.”
Canterbury said the judges in West Virginia are wonderful.
“We are so lucky to have great judges here — they’re smart, committed and passionate,” he said. “Justice is fundamental to what this country is all about and it is so important to never lose sight of the big issues.”
During his previous job as the executive director of the state jail authority, Canterbury said he was in charge of the building of six of the state’s ten regional jails, the construction of the first women’s prison and that he was on charge of building most of the state’s juvenile facilities, totaling approximately $420 million of construction.
“Operating the jails is a big job in itself,” Canterbury said. “It was quite an interesting job. I like to think I left it better than it was when I came in.”
Canterbury has been a member of COSCA since 2005 and has been an active member since 2007. He has been on the Board of Directors since 2012, the first West Virginian to do so. He also is the first West Virginian to be elected to the presidential succession.
COSCA is made up of the chief executives of the court systems in each state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. The conference is committed to strengthening the judicial branch by improving the quality of state courts and increasing the public’s trust and confidence in the justice system.
“We are here to put together the best ways to handle things,” he said. “Every state has a court administrator, and we are a very diverse group of people representing a very diverse group of states.”
Family Court Judge Louise Staton, who is president of the Family Court Association, said Canterbury is a wonderful person.
“I think he walks on water,” she said. “I have been a judge for 22 years and he has always treated us as an equal court and has always been very helpful.”
Staton said it has not always been the case with past administrators, and that working with Canterbury has been wonderful.
“Anytime we have come to him for anything, he has always been very helpful,” she said.
Father Brian O'Donnell, the executive secretary of the Catholic Conference of West Virginia, said he met Canterbury when he was working with the prison ministry while Canterbury was working with the jail authority.
"I was so impressed with his insight and amazed because he knew a lot and always got his points across," O'Donnell said. "Steve has done so much good."
O'Donnell said the Council of Churches, as well as himself, are impressed with all that Canterbury has accomplished.
"Steve definitely has a fan in me," O'Donnell said.
The current COSCA president praised Canterbury.
“Steve Canterbury's unanimous election to serve as President of COSCA in 2017-2018 reflects the tremendous respect of his colleagues around the country.” Arthur Pepin said. “Steve brings intelligence and energy to every COSCA project and is usually the person best able to help us find common ground despite the differences among the states.”
The current West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeal Chief Justice did as well.
“It’s a great honor for a small state like West Virginia to have our court administrator elected to such a high position in the national Conference of State Court Administrators,” Menis Ketchum said.
He currently serves on numerous state and national committees including:
* chairman of COSCA’s Language Access Advisory Committee, which helps promote video remote interpretation that provides cost savings to states
* liaison to the National Consortium of Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts
* treasurer of the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center
* founding member of the WV Community Corrections Subcommittee of the Governor’s Council on Crime, Delinquency and Corrections
* chairman of the West Virginia Court Security Board
Also, as a long-standing COSCA member, Canterbury edited the CCJ/COSCA court security handbook, Ten Essential Elements for Court Security and Emergency Preparedness. He also serves as co-chair of the CCJ/COSCA Meeting Planning Committee.
Canterbury lives with his wife, Nancy, a clinical psychologist. He has a stepdaughter, Rachel, who works as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.
“I’m hopelessly in love with my wife,” he said. “As much in love as you can be: that’s me.”
Canterbury also likes to collect 1950s memorabilia, such as furniture and jewelry. He has been collecting it since 1975.